If you are like me you can sit down at the computer at 1:00 pm and before you know it is 6:00 pm. While working I think I am being productive. I am in the groove. The information is coming together easily and if it hadn’t been for the three cups of coffee I probably wouldn’t have left the computer at all.
Our minds and bodies need a break. According to the article, Killing Yourself by Sitting (https://goo.gl/SZswH) the World Health Organization states that being physically inactive is the fourth leading risk for death. The article references a study, published in the March 26th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, which states that sitting for over 11 hours a day increases your chance of dying from any cause by 40%. In the same report not moving was found to be the “main cause of about a quarter of breast and colon cancers, 27 percent of diabetes cases, and 30 percent of heart disease cases”.
So I believe that I have established that movement is important by why is it important to have it happen in nature? Why can’t we just walk around the block? It is because we are hardwired to be in nature. It reminds us that there is something bigger than ourselves. Stand beside an ocean can cause you to feel small. A walk in a forest can make you feel short. Our ability to reconnect with the natural world is ignited as we feel a sense of wonder. While I sit at the computer I am aware of very little but when I take a walk in nature I begin to notice the smallest things. A toad in the leaves. A bird in the tree. A ladybug on a twig.
I find that being out in nature stimulates my creative juices. As I reconnect with nature I find that my mind expands, solutions seem to rush to mind. I am more present in the moment, available.
No matter the level of my stress once outside I feel happier. That deadline that I just couldn’t miss tends to melt away and I am able to just be. The mind chatter stops and I am more willing to get out of my head and just let life happen. I realize as I walk in nature how little I have control over. I also realize how little I need control over.
A caterpillar reminds me of the perfection of nature. How this small creature transforms from a wingless crawler to a magnificent butterfly with wings. A process that has been engineered, flawlessly by something much bigger than myself. The leaves turning and falling to the ground, effortlessly as the trees prepare for the harshness of winter; all driven by an internal clock that keeps precise time.
As I listen to the woodpecker tapping the tree trunks and witness the chipmunks collecting nuts I am reminded that nature takes only what is needed and there appears to be enough for all. There is a balance in nature that we, as humans, are still seeking to understand.
When I was younger I played outside. I know we hear that all the time but back then we were healthier. We were active, developing motor skills, and building muscles. I would spend hours by a small creek immersed in a full sensory experience as I stood in the water, soil oozing up through my toes, getting wet, touching creatures. I learned a respect for nature as I interacted with it in a personal way.
My husband understands that our minds and bodies need a break. He has been encouraging me to leave “the pit” as he calls it, my computer desk and take a walk. Sometimes it is just around the block, but most times it has been in nature. What I have found is that I have increased my concentration. I laugh more. I feel happier. I am not as stressed.
Perhaps it is the fresh air. Perhaps it is the exposure to natural light. But I truly believe it has been good for my heart, my blood pressure, and my immune system.
The studies say we are killing ourselves by sitting still. 13 Things You Should Know About Getting Back to Nature by Danielle Groen shares many studies that support just that. For example Stanford University found that walking increased creativity by 60%; a Japanese study found that inhaling phytoncides, chemicals produced by trees, caused stress hormones to drop; and Dutch residents found that having green spaces close to their homes promoted a sense of community. Other studies found that people, who are close to nature, sleep better, have lower blood pressure, live longer, are less stressed, are less depressed, experience lower regression, and have less fear.
So the next time you sit at your desk, remember to take a break. Look away from your computer screen every 20 minutes. Get up and walk around and do your best to incorporate a daily nature walk into your day. You will be more productive and you be making a conscious decision to improve your health. I can see the difference and I have only been doing it for a few short weeks.